I had to re-download the Soundcloud app.. it’s so much music on the web and everything available makes me wonder about the inaccessible stuff. What’s up with the locked-up goods that sit in all of these artists’ cloud-vaults (maybe hard drives)? The new year signals some new music, big sounds and new collaborations.
Hooks Ventura, the Newport News-native, dropped the @DJSweendawg hosted-EP Through The Shadows via Soundcloud. The project is good rap fun: from the hodge-podge of cadences Ventura travels through as an emcee to the full clip of producers loaded up, there is a something for new listeners and followers, alike.
Through The Shadows is an easily digestible EP; the 15-minute project is short, only firing off 7 songs. Two of the songs, Intro and Interlude, act as the glue for the project and don’t offer any complex material outside of the sample and original beat introduced, respectively. The production value packed into the 15 minutes is interesting: there are 6 separate producers (LORDFUBU, Justin Trax, Matt McGhee, Black Mayo, BlkYth and Mulatto Beats) featured on the EP. Some of these names you recognize for the phenomal year they had in 2017! Ventura tasks himself with coordinating with each producer’s energy. Simultaneously, each producer flexes their take on contemporary trap. The tags offered by the hosting @DJSweendawg add a bit of nostalgia and grit to the EP. Several listens through I am tempted to don the mixtape moniker on Through The Shadows, I mean come on.. it’s hosted!
The tape has so many sounds packed in, it acts as a sampler for Ventura, like a dish that shows the best of the menu in a restaurant. Even though Hooks Ventura does a decent job of keeping his work consistent with each producer- the work is very stitched together as a texture. Make no mistake, I don’t imply value is missing. I’m of the opinion the texture of the overall production gives the tape value, grit, nostalgia and authenticity.
Hooks Ventura surprises me with his several flows. I did think I was listening to several artists through the short time I plugged in. From Tell Me Shit to On Go– the flow is night and day. As listeners, we get a slower drawl or the classic A-B-C trap flow that punches every word through in a bar (Tell Me Shit). On Go, in contrast, bops along quicker; Ventura gets a bit sing-songy and offers up a dancier vibe. Each flow the emcee travels through adds to that sampler-feeling I mentioned earlier and it works. His many cadences keeps me wanting to cycle through the songs. I’m not bored, I’m fascinated.
Through The Shadows is chock-full of braggadocio, bars on camaraderie, classic pussy-punchlines and of course drug innuendos. Hooks Ventura keeps witty while cycling through each theme but does not step outside of them. Perhaps this is a calculated move to keep the tape focused on familiar themes rather than venture into anything conceptual. Staying loyal to the aforementioned contexts keeps Through The Shadows uniform. The uniformity in content balances all the fun on the production side nicely.
I like the mixtape. I’m not blown away and I don’t think virgin-ears or even long-time listeners are supposed to be. Hooks Ventura is slated to release an album at the bottom of 2018 that has been in the works for two years. The collaboration with the prolific and talented producers featured is a smart move and a tape is perfect to remind competition and hip-hop fans alike that an emcee is built for this. Hooks Ventura teamed up with @DJSweendawg to serve up the sampler that is Through The Shadows- now we’re all primed and ready to consume more.